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[infowar.de] USAF is redefining the boundaries of computer attack
Aviation Week & Space Technology
March 3, 2003
As combat preparations ramp up, USAF is redefining the boundaries of
By David A. Fulghum, Washington
There's a policy split in the Pentagon over information warfare, driven
partly by calculations that attacking key civilian Iraqi computer
systems might damage banking in France and, possibly, the U.K. as well.
Another concern is that the strain on the U.S. tanker fleet generated by
its support of the air bridge to Europe and the Middle East might
prevent simultaneous, round-the-clock combat operations, say senior Air
Force officials. That, in turn, could delay the start of offensive
operations against Iraq.
The U.S. military, led by some war-fighting factions in the Air Force,
say the effects of computer network attack need to be studied more
closely. Officials are willing enough to conduct electronic warfare and
attack computer networks such as integrated air defense systems that
involve the enemy military only. But war planners want to draw the line
at computer networks that have an impact on the civilian infrastructure.
One study making the rounds at the Pentagon contends that shutting down
a particular Iraqi network that provides important financial services
could have far-flung consequences.
While an attack on financial systems would cripple the Iraqi war effort,
it would also "take down the ATMs in France and maybe the U.K. as well,"
said a senior USAF official. "Because of the satellite communications
links and the Internet, the armed services are saying to senior Pentagon
civilians, 'We can do it if you insist, but we don't want the military
to get a black eye'" as the authors of a plan that has global
repercussions, some of them possibly on U.S. allies.
"I'm worried about integrated air defense systems; I'm not interested in
banking systems," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper in a
separate interview. However, he did point out that the Air Force wants
to "take advantage of the same set of [computer network attack] tools to
do different kinds of jobs at the tactical and operational levels of
The services are still trying to define information operations/warfare
and stake out their place in the new discipline, Jumper said.
"We're trying to figure out as an Air Force what we contribute to this
whole fuzzy notion of information warfare, information operations and
information in warfare," Jumper said. "It has to do with our ability to
use information tools . . . and treat them like other weapons in the Air
The topic of defining the warfighter's place in the mix surfaced during
a February "Corona" meeting of the Air Force's most senior leaders and
at an air warfare symposium in Florida.
"We need to find out more about information operations," said Gen. Hal
Hornburg, chief of Air Combat Command, at the latter event. "There are
elements of information operations which in a very fundamental way scare
Hornburg suggests that IO be separated into three components:
manipulation of public perception, computer network attack and
electronic warfare. For the present, only the last should be assigned to
the warfighter, he said. "What I'm interested in is nonkinetic solutions
to basic kinetic requirements," such as destroying armored ground
forces, he said.
Another problem facing the U.S. is its overstretched tanker forces. So
many tankers are involved in keeping the air bridge from the U.S. to
Europe, Turkey and the Middle East intact that Air Force planners don't
believe they can keep the flow of airlifters moving and at the same time
conduct "24-hr. operations over the battlefield in Iraq," the Air Force
official said. "Supporting the logistics bridge could delay the start
date of an offensive.
Moving into the Middle East, and also putting strain on the tanker
force, are recently activated Air National Guard F-16 units specialized
for ground attack. "The tankers are really being stretched," he said. In
anticipation of an agreement with the Turkish government, combat units
and C-17s have been pouring out of Germany and into eastern Turkey, many
of them under the guise of reinforcements and replacements for units
enforcing the no-fly zone over northern Iraq.
Jumper claimed responsibility for arming Predator unmanned aircraft,
even though they were used only by the Central Intelligence Agency in
Afghanistan and Yemen. Jumper said the assets are available to whoever
can use them, and the missile-armed, unmanned aircraft are staged for
more use in Iraq.
"I have them ready to go," he said. "I did put Hellfire on the Predator
so we would have options to deal with fleeting targets of the type I saw
in Kosovo. I'm not jealous about its use. We will provide it to the
nation wherever the nation needs it."
Jumper also referred to a proposed plan to split UAV use between the Air
Force and Navy.
"[In] some of the work I'm doing with [Chief of Naval Operations Adm.]
Vern Clark and the U.S. Navy, we're talking about squadrons of
[unmanned] airplanes, Global Hawks and the like that might have U.S.
Navy on one side and U.S. Air Force on the other."
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